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Prepared by Dr. ROBERT E. L. NEWBERNE 

Chief Medical Supervisor 

Under the direction of CHAS. H. BURKE 




In compliance with current copyright 
law, U. C. Library Bindery produced 

this replacement volume on paper 

that meets ANSI Standard Z39.48-1984 

to replace the deteriorated, 

damaged, or lost original. 




Introduction v 

The Indian s craving for stimulants 1 

The peyote cactus 2 

Derivation of name . 2 

Indian names for peyote 3 

Botanical name of peyote 3 

Botanical variations 4 

Geographical distribution 4 

The sacred mushroom of the Aztecs 4 

Peyote in commerce 5 

Early missionary reports concerning sacred plants 7 

Worship of the cactus 8 

The attitude of the missionaries 8 

Ceremonial use of peyote by the Indians 9 

The old-time peyote meeting 9 

An official description of a modern peyote meeting 11 

The peyote religion 11 

The growth of the peyote cult 12 

Religio-therapeutic use of peyote 13 

The extension of the habit 14 

Harmful effects of peyote 14 

Is peyote an intoxicant? 16 

Peyote as an intoxicant before the courts 18 

How peyote is taken and its immediate effects 19 

Physiological action . 20 

Therapeutic uses 23 

Peyote and the food and drugs act 23 

Opposition to legislation 25 

Testimony of Dr. Harey W. Wiley 25 

The peyote questionnaire 26 

Summary of the returns 28 

Table I Use of peyote by jurisdictions 33 

Table II Use of peyote by States 35 


i. Lophophora William sit, cemmon type. 

1. Lophophora williamsU, common type 2 

2. Another type of Lophophora icrilliamsii 4 

3. The Aztec narcotic cactus (buttons) 6 

4. The devil s root 8 

5. The southern type of Lophophora williamsU 10 

6. Two forms of Lophophora williamsU from same hill 12 




This pamphlet, which is an abridgement of a compilation made 
some time ago of selected matter from the peyote files of the Bureau 
of Indian Affairs, by Dr. Robert E. L. Newberne, is published as a 
convenient source of information for the employees of the Indian 
Service and for supplying those who are interested in securing regu 
lative legislation against the sale, shipment, and use of peyote with 
the kind of data most frequently requested. 

JPeyote is said to be a narcotic drug, yet it is not covered by the 
provisions of the Harrison Narcotic Act; it is said to be an intoxi 
cant, but its use is not interdicted by the national prohibition amend 
ment to the Constitution of the United States. 

.Regardless of whatever else peyote may be, the weight of evi 
dence pronounces it harmful to those who use it habitually, particu 
larly to growing children; therefor I warn the Indian people 
against the drug and say to them, in the language of Herbert 
Spencer : 

For complete livinjr it is 1 necessary that there shall he escaped the inca 
pacities and slow annihilations which unwise hahits entail. 


I would also remind them, in the words of Clauston, that 

To crave is eiisy. to control is difhVult : therefore the wiser course is to 
avoid those tbinjrs which tend to create u craving. 





AVhcther or not American Indians crave intoxicants more than 
other pcnplo, an impression to that effect is widespread, and certain 
writers have sought to explain and condone the alleged tendency by 
saving that the actuating desire has its origin in physiological and 
psychological deficiencies, caused by the lack of proper food through 
many generations and the present want of suitable mental stimulus. 

Jn his native life there was much more to interest the Indian than 
there is now. His very existence was one of activity and industry. 
Every article used by him was of native manufacture. His food, 
his shelter, his raiment, his decorative art. his amusements all de 
pended upon his individual initiative and effort. But the tide of 
changing conditions \vhich is bearing him onto the shores of a new 
world has swept awa}^ the stimulus that kept him busy and interested, 
and he is now watchfully waiting for his star of destiny to lead him 
to his place in the sun. His work, which was once done in the spirit 
of aggressive genius, is now resolved into commonplace toil, for, to 
him, what is the use of the struggle? They say that he has contended 
against fate and failed. Why not forget, and if there is anything 
that will bring about forgetfulness and make the heart glad, if but 
for a moment, why not take it? 

If the use of intoxicating plants and of fermented drinks had 
been unknown to the ancient Indian, this theory would possess 
greater validity than can rightfully be accorded to it, but if the sub 
ject is studied by tracing the facts back through the ages, the evi 
dence of a reversion to ancestral customs is suggested, if not made 

The Indian has never been entirety satisfied with alcohol; its 
effects and its violent hasty reaction have not harmonized with his 
Elysian dreams, and such violent reactions have destroyed his faith 
in its power to transport him in celestial visions to the happy hunt 
ing grounds of his fathers; but he did not forego the stimulating 
effect of alcoholic drinks because of the disagreeable after effects, or 
because he was not getting what he longed for; it was the best he 
could do ; and if he was ordained to live the life of the white man he 
would not repudiate his demons. But something in his nature it 
might have been the coming into consciousness of knowledge long 
hidden in his subconscious mind, or it might have been the prompting 


of cell cravings told him that there was a better intoxicant than 
whisky, an herb known to his ancestors, and he sought that herb and 
found it in peyote, and he believes that his people now have an in 
toxicant that satisfies and yet leaves consciousness to witness the 
strange orgies that are taking place in the underworld of their men 


The peyote cactus (Lophophora wiUiamsii) is a succulent, spine 
less cactus, usually shaped like a turnip or a carrot, with a depressed 
globose or hemispherical head and having low, inconspicuous tu 
bercles and a tapering tap root. The tubercles occur normally in 
longitudinal ribs, but in some forms of the plant they are arranged 
spirally or irregularly. In the center of each tubercle there is a 
flower-bearing areole with a dense tuft of erect hairs, from the midst 
of which the flower issues. When mature the tuft of hairs persists 
as a pulvillus in the form of a pencil or brush of hairs. The plants 
grow either solitary or. more frequently, in clusters of several from 
a common base. 

The peyote of commerce is the dried flowering tops of the peyote 
cactus a brown, bitter substance, nauseating to the taste, composed 
mainly of the blunt, dried leaves of the plant. 

The mescal button (dried flowering top of the peyote cactus) is 
from an inch to an inch and a half in diameter, one-fourth of an inch 
in thickness, with a convex under surface. The button is brittle and 
hard when dry. but becomes soft when moistened; it has a very 
bitter, unpleasant taste, and an odor when moist which is peculiar 
and disagreeable. This odor is especially noticeable in the powdered 


The correct commercial name in English for the drug is " pe-yo-te," 
which is an adapted form of the Spanish spelling " pe-llo-te " which, 
according to the Mexican variation in pronunciation, is called pe- 
yo-te, although always written in Spanish "pellote." This name 
is of Aztec origin, derived from the Nahuatl word " peyotl, meaning 
cocoon. The term "peyotl" was, and is still, applied in Mexico to 
other plants than Lophophora, notably to several species of Cacalia, 
the principal one of which is Cacalia cordifolia, which is used by the 
Mexican Indians as a medicine but not as an intoxicant. It was evi 
dently the practice of the Aztecs to name plants from their real or 
fancied resemblance of the whole, or some part, to a well-known 
object. In the case of Cacalia it was the velvety, tuberous roots, 
which from their form and indument could be likened to the cocoon 
of a moth. In the case of Lophophora it was the flowering top. 

Courtesy of l n.f< 


Typical form with dofinod ribs. Photoprruph of specimen in the Cacfn= Houft of theT T . S. Depart 
uicnt .of Agriculture, cullucled in IU1U, mi the llaeienda de Cudros, near Mazu^il, State ui ZacaLeca.i 
Mexico, by Dr. Elswood ChafTey. Photograph natural size. 


The term " mescal " as applied to peyote should not be confused 
with the distilled liquor mescal of Mexico, although it is an exten 
sion of the same word. In Mexico the most common intoxicant is 
mescal, and because of its effects the name was carried over by the 
American Indians to peyote for the reason that it also intoxicates. 
It was the simplest way to explain w r hat it would do. If some new 
intoxicating drug were discovered and it was desired to explain its 
effect to the Mexican Indians, the quickest and easiest way would be 
to call it whisky, for they all know the effect of whisky just as the 
American Indians of the southwestern part of the United States 
knew what mescal would do. In Mexico mescal is not a synonym for 
peyote, but in the United States it may be properly so used, but the 
better word is " peyote." 

The peyote of commerce is often called " mescal buttons. 7 from 
the resemblance of the dried, flowering tops to coat buttons. There 
is no more reason for calling the peyote buttons mescal " beans " 
than there is for calling anything else a bean which is not a bean and 
has no resemblance to a bean. The preferable name for the drug 
is peyote. The accepted synonyms are " mescal " and " mescal but 
tons." The term " mescal beans " should not be used at all as a 
name for peyote by any person who has the slightest regard for 
scientific designations or for any form of accurate nomenclature. 


Among both the Indians of Mexico and the United States the drug 
is known by various names: " xicori " by the Huicholes of Jalisco; 
" hikori," or " hikuli " by the Tarahumaris of Chihuahua ; " kamaba " 
by the Tepehuanes of Durango ; " ho " by the Mescalero Apaches, 
who formerly ranged as far south as Coahuila; " seni " by the 
Kiowas ; and " wokowi " by the Commaches, some of whom formerly 
lived in the State of Chihuahua. The name " peyote " has survived 
as a general commercial term, in common with the less correct desig 
nations of " mescal " and " mescal buttons." 


The correct botanical name for peyote is Lophophora luilliamsii. 
Until Safford showed, in 1915, that Lophophora lewinii and Lopho 
phora williamsii are identical, it was believed that various species 
of Lophophora were represented in commercial peyote. In the nine 
teenth edition of the United States Dispensatory the drug is indexed 
as " pellote " (peyote) and " anhalonium," being described under 
the latter name. The species of anhalonium mentioned are A. lewinii, 
A. williamsii, and A. jourdanianum. The two principal species are 
now known to be identical. 

9612422 2 



Lophophora williamsii is quite variable; sometimes its ribs instead 
of being vertical are more or less diagonal or spiral, and instead of 
being separated by straight grooves the latter are sinuous, or the 
tubercles may be irregularly arranged. One form was described by 
Hennings as a distinct species under the name Anhalonium lewinii, 
but the type plant described and figured by him was, it is said, a 
boiled up " mescal button " obtained from a pharmaceutical manu 
facturing house. This specimen was in all probability gathered in 
the vicinity of Laredo, Tex. In this form the ribs are usually 13 in 
number, separated by strongly sinuous grooves. Sometimes there 
are 12 ribs, or even as few as 9; while in the typical L. williamsii 
there are usually 8 ribs, sometimes as many as 10, separated by 
straight, or almost straight, lines. It has been wrongly asserted 
that the petals of L. lewinii are yellow. Safford has proved that 
they have rose-tinted flowers which are in no way distinguishable in 
form or color from those of L. williamsii. He has further shown 
that typical plants of L. williamsii and L. lewinii may be found in the 
same cluster growing from a common base. Another form which 
departs* from the typical L. williamsii even more than the plant 
figured by Hennings has been shown by Safford to be but a variety ; 
hence, all narcotic peyote may be properly classified, botanically, 
under the genus Lophophora williamsii, thus eliminating the several 
names which arose from incorrect reference of the plant. 


The geographical range of the genus Lophophora is from the 
southern border of Texas along the Eio Grande and from the mouth 
of the Pecos River southeastward to the southern part of Queretaro, 

As stated elsewhere, the peyote used by the Indians of the United 
States comes from the southern part of Texas and from the northern 
part of Mexico, the principal markets being Eagle Pass, Laredo, and 


There can be no longer any doubt as to the identity of the sacred 
mushroom of the Aztecs, which was called " teonanacatl," with peyote. 
The widespread historical interest associated with the former jus 
tifies the republishing of Professor Safford s summary of his re- , 
searches, which is a parjLof his article entitled "An Aztec narcotic, * 
which appeareoYln tlpg %ily number of the Journal of Heredity for the 
year 1915, Volume W, No. 7. 

of Pr^ieaoor Safford. 


in 190S, by F. E. Loyd. Photograph natural size. 


After comparing: the preceding accounts of the use of narcotics by the ancient 
Mexicans and by the Indians of the present day, separated in time by three 
centuries and in space by thousands of miles, there can remain no doubt that the 
rnushroom-like peyote used by our own Indians in the United States, which 
we know to be identical with the sacred " hikuli " or " hicori " of the Sierra 
Madre Indians, is the same drug which was called " teonanacatl," or "/sacred 
mushrooms." by the Aztecs. According to the earliest writers, it was endemic 
in the land of the Chichirnecas, the early home of our Apaches, Comanches, 
and Kiowas, which is also the source of the modern supply. The ancient Mexi 
cans, like the Huicholes and Tarahumaris of the present day, obtained their 
supply of the drugs through the medium of messengers, consecrated for the 
purpose, who observed certain religious rites in collecting it and who were 
received with ceremonial honors on their return. Although the Indians on our 
northern reservations now receive it through the medium of the parcel post, yet 
they attribute to it the same divine properties as did the ancient Mexicans and 
combine its worship with the religion they have received from Christian mission 
aries. It is only natural that those who are engaged in the work of Christian 
izing and uplifting our Indians should try? like the early Spanish missionaries, 
to stamp out its use. On the other band, many of the Indians who use the 
narcotic declare they take it ns a kind of sacrament or communion, and that 
iflieTps them to turn from wickedness amnead_good__lives. 

A knowledge of botany has been attributed to the Aztecs which they were far 
from possessing. Their plant names show that the classification of plants was 
not based upon real affinities, and it is very probable that they had not the slight 
est notion of the difference between a flowering plant and a fungus. Certainly 
they applied the name " nanacatl " and " nanacace " to both fungi and flower 
ing plants and the name " peyotl " to both the narcotic cactus, Lophophora, and 
to the tuber-bearing composite, Cacalia. The botanical knowledge of the early 
Spanish writers, Sahagun, Hernandez, Ortega, and Jacinto de la Serna, was 
perhaps not much more extensive; their descriptions were so inadequate that 
even to the present day the chief narcotic of the Aztecs. " ololiuhqui," which 
they all mention, remains unidentified. They knew these narcotic drugs only 
in their dry state, and the general appearance of the " peyotl " brought from 
the vicinity of Zacatecas was so very different from the " teonanacatl " from 
the more northerly region inhabited by the Chichimecas that the two forms 
might easily have been regarded as coming from distinct plants. 

As far as the author knows, this is the first time that the identity of the 
" sacred mushroom " of the Aztecs with the narcotic cactus known botanically 
as LophopJwra itfillwm Sti has been pointed out. That it should have been 
mistaken by the early Spaniards for a mushroom is not surprising when one 
notices the remarkable resemblance of the dried buttons to peltate fungi and 
also bears in mind that the common potato (Solanum tuberosum) on its intro 
duction into Europe was popularly regarded as a kind of truffle, a fact which is 
recorded by Its German name, "kartoffel" or " tartuffel." 

; r ;t : -"-m<t .,::!; < " ^* .?" - (. > .-.! -Jjjj-jt - .-M 


Peyote has not attained a prominent place as an article of com 
merce, principally because of the limited demand for it in the chan 
nels of trade. Among the Mexican Indians it is gathered and dried 
for sale to local users, and a few merchants take it in trade at their 
^ stores for the Indian market of the United States. The largest 


dealers are L. Yillegos & Co. and Wormser Bros., both of Laredo, 
Tex. These two houses supply most of the peyote consumed by the 
Indians of Wyoming, Nebraska, Wisconsin. Iowa, and perhaps the 
Dakotas. and also a considerable part of that which is used by the 
Oklahoma Indians, particularly the Osages. The chief source of 
supply for the Indians of the southern part of Oklahoma and for 
other Indians not included in the line of runners of the first pil 
grimage organization is through Eagle Pass. El Paso. Aguilares, 
and other Texas towns along the Rio Grande, where it is purchased 
from Indians or Mexicans, who gather and dry it. or from small 
dealers. One Indian will always divide his supply of peyote with 
another Indian, and frequently the only purchase consideration is 
the strengthening of " the tie that binds." 

The principal means of transporting peyote among the Indians is 
in suit cases of pilgrims. While pilgrimages to peyote-land are an 
established feature of the use of the drug, the commercial consid 
eration seems to be subordinate to the u missionary spirit which 
seeks to spread the mescal gospel among the Indians. 

Among certain tribes of Indians in Mexico the gathering of peyote 
is a sacred act which must be celebrated by elaborate rites and cere 
monies. Those who take part decorate their hats and their hair with 
feathers, indicate with paint, which they apply to their faces, the 
distinctive attributes of their caste and of their gods, but the peyote 
which finds its way to the " church tents " of the Indians of the 
United States had no part in pagan rites during the process of its 
preparation for use. It is, as a rule, clipped from the cactus in Oc 
tober and dried for a month before it is placed on the market. Before 
the war it cost the consumer in Laredo $o a thousand buttons; the 
merchants pay $2.50 a thousand for it. A gatherer will not average 
more than 200 buttons a day, it is said, and he must dry them for a 
month before taking them to the merchant, and then perhaps take 
his pay in trade. If he is fortunate enough to meet a "pilgrim, 7 
which is possible ; towns other than Laredo, at which place the 
sale is practically regulated by contracts with the two firms that 
handle the drug, he may get twice the ordinary price for his product. 
Peyote grows on both sides of the Rio Grande. That which is 
sold by the Laredo houses is derived principally from the cactus 
hills on the American side. A special agent of the Bureau of Indian 
Affairs visited the little Mexican town situated among these hills 
a town which is practically supported by the peyote industry and 
found that the supposed curative effect of the drug has not been mani 
fested there, as is evidenced by the fact that the cemetery is larger 
than the town itself. If peyote is the great healing agent that it is 
claimed to be, surely, like the proverbial prophet, paraphrasing the 
statement to fit the application, it is without healing power in its 

Legend by Professor Safford. 


" God s Flesh," or "Sacred Mushroom" of the Aztecs. Disks cut from the crown of the cactus 
Lophophora williamsii and dried. Photograph of specimens received by the Bureau of Chemistry 
U. P. Do.partmpnl of Agriculture, from the Indian Office in 1914. Now widely used as a narcotic 
by Indians oi tin- United States. Natural size. 


own country in its own home town except in its tendency to heal 
by hastening the coming of the last sleep from which there is no 
awakening until the day dawns for the dead to give their testimony in 
the courts of eternity. 


According to the reports of the early missionaries, the Indians, 
particularly those of Mexico, held in veneration various plants which 
they conceived to be incarnations of spirits, some with potentialities 
for good and others decidedly evil in character. These plants were 
shown great honor and courtesy the good, in order to invoke their 
favors ; the bad, as an appeasement to induce them to withhold their 
evil influences. Indian mythology is a blend of superstitions woven 
around a talking plant or animal, concerning itself with the affairs 
of human life. The cutting down of a tree was often the occasion for 
the observance of religious rites that would explain to the embodied 
spirit that, after due consideration, the tree body which he inhabited 
was the most suited material that could be found for some higher 
purpose, as the bridging of a stream or the erection, perhaps, of a 
totem pole, and that in bringing about its death its human friends 
had sought to show their veneration, hoping thus to insure for them 
selves the continued favor of the spirit now free to reincarnate and 
manifest its power in another form. 

It is not surprising that narcotic plants should have been subject to 
marked veneration. Bancroft refers to a sacred fungus, or mush 
room, which the Indians of Mexico called the " flesh of God," which 
excited the passions and caused the partaker to see snakes and divers 
other visions. Padre Bernardino Sahagun, writing before the year 
1569 of the Chichimeca Indians of the northern part of Mexico, 
referred to their having discovered evil mushrooms which intoxi 
cated like wine. It is now known with almost certainty that the so- 
called mescal button is what was referred to as a fungus, or evil 
mushroom, for three centuries of investigation have failed to reveal 
that Mexico is or ever has been the home of fungus with intoxi 
cating properties. 

A physician. Dr. Francisco Hernandez, who was sent by the King 
of Spain in 1570 to study the resources of Mexico, in writing of the 
peyote cactus said : 

The root is of nearly medium size, sending forth no branches nor leaves above 
ground, but with a certain woolliness adhering to it on account of which it 
could not be aptly figured by me. Both men and women are said to be harmed 
by it. It appears to be of sweetish taste and moderately hot. Ground up and 
applied to painful joints it is said to give relief. Wonderful properties are at 
tributed to this root. It causes those devouring it to be able to foresee and to 
predict things; such, for instance, as whether on the following day the enemy 


will make an attack upon them or whether the weather will continue favor 
able, or to discern who has stolen from them some utensil or anything else, and 
other things of like nature which the Chichimecas really believe they have 
found out ; on which account this root scarcely issues forth but conceals itself in 
the ground, as if it did not wish to harm those who discover it and eat it. 


Mr. Havelock Ellis asserts that there are five or six allied species 
of cacti which the Indians of Mexico use and treat with great rev 
erence, and he quotes Lumholtz as his authority for saying that the 
Tarahumari, one of the tribes of that country, worship various cacti 
as gods, to be approached only in the most deferential manner with 
uncovered heads. When they wish to obtain these cacti they cense 
themselves with copal incense, and, with profound respect and watch 
ful tenderness, dig them up, exercising great care that they do not 
hurt the gods, while women and children are warned from the spot. 
It is said that even Christian Indians regard Hikori. the cactus god, 
as coequal with their own divinity and make the sign of the cross 
in the presence of the cactus god. At all festivals, or fiestas, as they 
are called in the Spanish language. Hikori is made into a drink and 
consumed by the medicine man, or certain selected Indians, who 
sing as they partake of it, invoking Hikori to grant " beautiful in 
toxication," making at the same time a rasping noise with sticks, 
while men and women perform a fantastic and picturesque cfance 
the women by themselves in white petticoats and tunics before 
those who are under the influence of the god. 

The Indians of the United States have departed from the original 
mode of worship, which limited the partakers to a few, and the 
prevailing custom now is open communion; nor is the habit a vice 
of men only, for the women also are sharing in its privileges, too. 


To the missionary peyote is more than a physiological problem, 
more than a social problem. It is more than another " dope " 
problem to be disposed of by legislating it into the class of drugs 
covered by the national narcotic law. It is. as one writer stated. " a 
system of pagan worship, inimical to Christianity, which has its 
roots deep into the historic past of the red race, and because of this 
it makes the strongest kind of an appeal to the Indians." Does 
the red man hail it as a revival of an ancient religion altogether his 
own, which is sent to him in divine purpose to take the place of the 
white man s foreign religion, or is this a pretense? To the mis 
sionary the use of peyote is paganism arrayed against Christianity 
the power of a drug against the elevating influence of the Cross. * 

Photograph and legend by Safford. 


Peyotl Za^.iiecensis (Lophophora williamsii). "The root is of nearly medium size, sending forth no 
branches nor leaves above ground, but with a certain wooliness adhering to it." Photograph natural size. 



Professor Safford in his article, "An Aztec narcotic," says : 

The first to bring to public notice the ceremonial use of this narcotic by 
existing tribes of Indians was James Mooney, of the Bureau of American 
Ethnology, in a paper read before the Anthropological Society of Washington 
on November 3, 1891. His attention had been directed to it while making in 
vestigations among the Kiowas, who are descendants of one of the tribes 
known to the Aztecs by the name of " Chichimecas." Mr. Mooney found that 
these Indians attribute divine powers to the drug, and the ceremony attend 
ing its use is of the nature of a religious rite in which all the tribes of the 
southern plains take part. 

The Kiowas and other Indians of Oklahoma receive the greater part of 
their supply of the drug from traders who bring it from the vicinity of Laredo, 

Tex., in the form of " mescal buttons." 


Peyote meetings are nocturnal, usually beginning Saturday night * * *. 
The ceremony occupies from 12 to 14 hours, beginning about 9 or 10 o clock 
and lasting until early noon of the next day. Saturday night is now the time 
usually selected in deference to the white man s idea of Sunday as a sacred 
day and a day of rest. The worshipers sit in a circle around the inside of 
the sacred tipi with a fire blazing in the center. The exercises open with a 
prayer by the leader, who then hands each man four mescals, which he takes 
and eats in quick succession, first plucking out the small tuft of down from 
the center. In eating, the dry mescal is first chewed in the mouth, then rolled 
into a large pellet between the hands and swallowed, the man rubbing his 
breast and the back of has neck at the same time to aid the descent. After 
this first round the leader takes the rattle, while his assistant takes the drum, 
and together they sing the first four times, with full voices, at the same time 
beating the drum and shaking the rattle with all the strength of their arms. 
The drum and rattle are then handed to the next couple, and so the song goes 
on around and around the circle with only a break for the baptismal ceremony 
at midnight and another for the daylight ceremony until perhaps 9 o clock 
the next morning. Then the instruments are passed out of the tipi, the sacred 
foods are eaten, and the ceremony is at an end. * * * The dinner, which 
is given an hour or two after the ceremony, is always as elaborate a feast 
as the host can provide. The rest of the day is spent in gossiping, smoking, 
and singing the new songs, until it is time to return home. 


Safford in one of his research articles on peyote includes a de 
scription of a peyote meeting, written in 1754 by Padre Jose Ortega, 
in which the drug was referred to as " raiz diabolica," or devil s root. 
It must have been the custom in those days to use both peyote and 
alcoholic drinks on the occasion of the celebration of these fiestas, as 
may be seen by the following record of happenings, written by the 
father who had witnessed many such functions : 

Close to the musician was seated the leader of the singing, whose business 
it was to mark the time. Each of these had his assistants to take his place 
when he should become fatigued. Near by was placed a tray filled with peyote, 
which is a diabolical root that is ground up and drunk by them so that they 


may not become weakened by the exhausting effects of so long a function, whicii 
they began by forming as large a circle of men and women as could occupy 
the space of ground that had been swept off for this purpose. One after the 
other went dancing in. a ring, or marking time with their feet, keeping in the 
middle the musician and the choirmaster whom they had invited, and singing 
in the same dispassionate tone that he had set them. They would dance all 
night, from 5 o clock in the evening to 7 o clock in the morning, without 
stopping or leaving the circle. When the dance was ended, all stood who could 
hold themselves on their feet, for the majority from the peyote and the wine 
which they drank were unable to utilize their legs to hold themselves upright. 

In the same article there also appears an account written in the 
sixteenth century written before Sir Francis Drake set out upon his 
journey around the world, and before tobacco, which was one of the 
sacred plants of the Indians of Mexico, was carried to England. 
Padre Bernardino Sahagun, the first writer on peyote, is quoted as 
follows : 

The first thing eaten at the party was certain black mushrooms, which in 
toxicate and cause visions to be seen and even provoke sensuousness. These 
they ate before the break of day, and they also drank chocolate before dawn. 
The mushrooms they ate with sirup and when they began to feel the effect they 
began to dance; some sang; others wept becaiise they were already intoxicated 
by the mushrooms; and some did not wish to sing, but seated themselves in 
their rooms and remained there as though meditating. Some had visions that 
they were dying and shed tears; others imagined that some wild beast was 
devouring them ; others that they were capturing prisoners in warfare ; others 
that they were rich ; others that they had many slaves ; others that they had 
committed serious crimes and were to be put to death as a penalty ; others 
that they had been guilty of theft and were to be executed ; and many other 
visions were seen by them. After the intoxication of the mushrooms had 
passed off they conversed with one another about the visions they had seen. 

Padre Jacinto de la Serna in describing a meeting of conjurers 
held in July, 1626, mentions the use of a mushroom that had similar 
effects to peyote. These mushrooms were administered with pulque 
soon after midnight to the members of the congregation, after the 
manner of communion. Such celebrations were closed by drinking 
" an abundant quantity of pulque, so that the mushrooms on their 
part and the pulque on its part took away their reason, which was a 

Whether the conjurers or sorcerers used peyote or a poisonous 
mushroom or some other drug was in doubt for many years, but 
since the scientists have never discovered such a mushroom and 
because of the fact that peyote, on account of its resemblance in the 
dried state to a mushroom, was frequently referred to as "mush 
room." it is now believed that the drug used by the conjurers was 
none other than peyote. Safford, in fact, identifies the sacred mush 
room of the Aztecs with the narcotic cactus known botanically as 
Lophophora williamsii. 


Yuung plant oi Lophophora from Higuerillos, State of Qucretaro, Mexico, the southern limit of the 
genus. Collected in 1905 by Dr. J. N. Rose. Photograph natural size. 



Father de la Serna said that while very little could be ascertained 
about the conjurers, whom he characterized as rascals, " it stands to 
reason that they must have a pact with the devil/ Thus it is seen 
that peyote has not always kept respectable company, for, in its use 
by the conjurers referred to who were feared because of the evil that 
they did. the purpose to which it was dedicated was far removed 
from good it was indeed an agent of death. 


The Handbook of North American Indians, issued by the Bureau 
of Ethnology, describes a peyote meeting thus: 

Among the Kiowas, Comanches, and other plains tribes it is rather a cere 
mony of prayer and quiet contemplation. It is usually performed as an invo 
cation for the recovery of some sick person. It is held in a tipi, specially 
erected for the purpose, and begins usually at night, continuing until the sun 
is well up in the morning. As many men as can sit comfortably within the tipi 
circle may participate, but, as a rule, women do not take part in the ceremony 
proper, but occupy themselves with the preparation of the sacred food and of 
the feast in which all join at the close of the performance. A fire is kept burn 
ing in the center of the tipi, inclosed within a crescent-shaped mound, on the top 
of which is placed a sacred peyote. Following an opening prayer by the chief 
priest, four peyotes are distributed to each participant, who chews and swallows 
them, after which the sacred songs begin to the accompaniment of the drum 
and rattle, each man singing four songs in turn, and are kept up all night, 
varied by the intervals of prayer and other distributions of peyote, with a 
peculiar baptismal ceremony at midnight. The number of "buttons" eaten 
by one individual during the night varies from 10 to 40, and even more, the 
drug producing a sort of spiritual exaltation differing entirely from that pro 
duced by any other known drug and apparently without reaction. The effect 
is heightened by the weird lullaby of the songs, the constant sound of the drum 
and rattle, and the fitful glare of the fire. 


Peyote has been used in the ceremonies of pagan forms of worship 
among the Indians of Mexico from time immemorial long before 
the coming of the Spaniards and the gospel of the Cross. The cere 
monies pertaining to its use in religious functions have been modified 
by the influence of Christian contact, and to some extent made to 
conform to denominational practices best understood. 

In Oklahoma the Peyote Church has been chartered under the 
name of the Native American Church. It is probable that other 
States will grant charters to the cult, but in doing so will they be 
preserving the right of religious freedom, or will they be giving 
charters to organized bodies to use a habit-forming harmful drug? 
In the opinion of man}", to give recognition to the Peyote Christian 
Church is as incongruous as it would be to recognize the Opium 
Christian Church, or the Cocaine Society of Christians. 
9612422 3 



The use of peyote by the Indians of the United States has not been 
common for more than a quarter of a century, though it has been 
used beyond that period of time by a few of the tribes, notably the. 
Kiowas and Gomanches. From the southern tribes the habit has 
gradually spread northward, perhaps as far as the Canadian border, 
dropping, as it moves away from its ancestral home, many of its 
pagan forms to take on certain characteristics of Christianity, until 
it now poses as Christian religion and its priests assume to administer 
the sacraments, and some claim the right to celebrate the marriage 
ceremony. It has appealed with singular force to the Plains Indians, 
among whom it supplanted the " Messiah craze." Where Shake rism 
thrives peyote is not popular, for the former seems to give the In 
dians an avenue for the outlet of their emotional nature and satis 
fies their pride in the possession of a distinctive Indian religion. 

The extension of the peyote religion is due to active missionary 
efforts on the part of those who saw in it an opportunity to gain 
personal leadership in promoting the tenets of a cult whose emblem 
of the eucharist is an intoxicant which stimulates and entrances far 
beyond the powers of alcohol and yet permits the retention of con 
sciousness, thus leaving the mind free to witness, although in help 
lessness, a panoramic scene of color visions that transport the soul 
into a paradise where it is lost in wonder, love, and praise, or into an 
inferno on the wall of which in fiery characters are written the sins 
of the observer. 

The Eeverend Doctor Eoe in writing on the peyote cult ascribed 
its growth to three reasons, as follows : 

1. It is a drug habit producing pleasurable excitation of the imagination, 
ordinarily without immediate injurious effects. 

2. It is a religion which claims to be the Indian form of Christianity, and 
there fore, makes a strong appeal to the racial instinct. 

3. It is generally organized and promulgated by young educated Indians, who 
thus find that pathway to ambitious prominence which is denied them under, 
the old-time regime. 

These three reasons, as modified by local conditions, or as rein 
forced by arguments of wider range, appeal to the Indian with 
compelling force a new clan, an Indian religion, with a sacrament 
which contains the incarnate Holy Spirit, and a leadership that 
promises power and honor to all who will follow. What more could 
the poor Indian hope for on this side of Jordan s wave? 

Well might the Reverend Mr. Vruwink seek t o give an explanation 
of why the Indians do not retreat from the danger which threatens 
them when they realize later on that peyote is a curse industrially, 
economically, physically, mentally, and morally. His pronounce 
ment is as follows : 




I- =3 


<fi = 

g 3 

o: g 



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5 2 





Some continue in the habit because .they dare not stop; they are afraid of 
the ridicule and threats of the peyote members. Others continue because they 
can not stop; they are drug fiends bound hand and foot. Still others will not 
stop because peyote means pleasure, profit, and leadership. Many Indians eat 
peyote because of the pleasurable sensations. It is primarily a lust of the 
flesh an indulgence at the expense of all that makes for the highest in manhood 
and womanhood. 

The peyote societies offer to the returned students an opportunity to live at 
the expense of the ignorant and superstitious and be honored for his cunning 
in his own tribe. He beholds a pathway to leadership an ambition so dear 
to the heart of every real Indian ; he sees success and fame that would be hard 
to attain through the channels of the old-time Indian societies or in Christian 
churches in which the doctrines of a meek and lowly life are preached; he em 
braces the chance and launches out as a leader. 

But fear, habit, and lust for pleasure, profit, and power do not account for 
every case. There is the ever-present factor of ignorance. Few peyote eaters 
realize what a dangerous drug they are dealing with, and many think that it 
is a harmless and good medicine, not appreciating the fact that every time 
peyote kills a pain it also weakens the heart action and shortens life. 

There are others who- may eat peyote believing that it is a cure for drunken 
ness, not knowing that when the drug takes away the desire for whisky it is 
only Because the subject is saturated with a drug which is much worse than 
whisky in its ultimate effects on the body and mind ; yes, and not even dream 
ing that an habitual peyote user is a drunkard just as much as an habitual 
user of whisky. The ignorant Indian may and does put peyote in the place of 
the Bible; in the place of the Gospel; in the place of the Holy Spirit. 

If these missionaries. Doctor Roe. who has since died, and the 
Reverend Mr. Yruwink, were not right in their estimate of peyote and 
its dangers, they thought they were, and it was their love for the 
Indian race that prompted them to send out appeals to the good peo 
ple of the United States, to the Congress, and to the churches to throw 
out the life line of prohibitive regulation ere the Indian was en 
thralled in hopeless slavery to a merciless, powerful, habit-forming 


Among certain tribes of the Indians of the United States members 
of the new cult use a decoction of peyote as a sort of holy water 
which they employ for the rites of purification and for their sacra 
ments of baptism and communion. They administer the drug in 
this form or in the dry state for all classes of ailments in the old 
and young, and even pour the holy water into the ears of newborn 

Peyote is heralded by its devotees as a sovereign remedy for tuber 
culosis and social diseases. By its opponents it is asserted that to 
the habitual use of the drug cases of imbecility, insanity, and suicide 
have been directly traced. 

It is held by the advocates of peyote that the drug destroys the 
desire for liquor. This is probably true in some cases, for the drug 


produces a " more satisfactory !? state of intoxication with less of the 
" morning after " feeling. And, too, it is a more respectable way 
of getting drunk, although the habitual user of peyote to excess often 
becomes a worthless member of his tribe, losing interest in everything 
except his besetting sin. 

Peyote users reason that because their addiction is not character 
ized by acts of violence the Government should not deprive them 
of the use of the narcotic ; but the users of morphine could urge this 
plea also. 


From time immemorial the Indians of Mexico and those who 
formerly lived in Texas, when it was a part of that country, have 
used peyote for producing intoxication during their religious cere 
monies. Among some of the tribes only the leaders or " priests " 
took the drug and beheld the visions which enabled them to pro 
nounce the divinations, but among the Indians of the United States 
this practice has never been in vogue. All the male members par 
take openly, and it is said that the women, when not permitted by 
the regulations of the local society to eat peyote as participants in 
the religious functions, take it privately. It is certain that many of 
them are addicted to the habit and that they do not always abstain 
when the} attend a peyote festival. 

The Roman Catholic Church in Mexico has exerted its influence 
against the peyote habit since the day of the coming of the first 
missionaries from Spain, and its members in good standing among 
the Indians of Mexico do not take part in peyote worship. The same 
declaration is true with respect to the relation of the churches of all 
denominations having missionaries among the Indians. In other 
words, the churches do not condone the use of the peyote, and as the 
Indians become addicted they withdraw from the churches and be 
come " peyote worshipers." 


The following excerpts on the harmful effects of peyote are taken 
from correspondence on the subject in the Indian Office files : 
The late Right Reverend Monsignor Ketcham : 

Those who defend the practice of peyote eating contend that those who 
indulge abstain from whisky and that a marked improvement is noted in 
their conduct. I presume that this is only, an instance of one evil supplanting 
another. One thing is certain, that where the practice has taken hold the 
Indians indulge to an excess, spending whole nights eating mescal and en 
gaging in peculiar religious observances with which they have surrounded its 
use. It will scarcely be possible to regulate its use and keep it within bounds. 
Systematic loss of sleep and overstimulation by drug can not serve anv 

PI-: VOTE. 15 

useful purpose. Those who indulge will not be in a condition to work as 
they should, and moreover, they will suffer physical and mental injury and, 
of course, will be losers morally. 

Thepeyote is a potent narcotic, affecting the respiratory and nervous systems, 
producing the same character of effect as the use of opium and hashish. The 
mind of the habitual user becomes affected, and the nervous energies are sapped. 
In some instances persons in a weak state of health have died as a result of an 
excessive indulgence in this narcotic. The Indians claim that it has valuable 
medical properties, but the scientists of the Government and the professors 
in the schools of pharmacy who have investigated it deny that it has any 
medicinal properties whatever. It has been commended by some because 
of the alleged claim that it removes the taste for alcoholic liquors and the 
user is in a condition of stupor while under its influence instead of a boisterous 
mood, as when under the influence of alcohol. This is no reason why In 
dians should impair their health by indulgence. 

The late Reverend Doctor Roe: 

A number of cases have come to my knowledge in which sudden death, 
apparently from heart failure or hemorrhage, has overtaken individuals while 
either eating or drinking peyote. Generally, however, the effect is slow, result 
ing in increasing lassitude and inactivity, with weakening will, disincliuaton to 
exertion, and loss of power of resistance when attacked by disease. We are 
also convinced that the offspring of confirmed users of peyote show marked 
nervous and brain disturbances, resulting often in early death, while the 
custom of administering the drug to young children must be deleterious. It 
is thought that the excessive mortality among the young men of certain tribes, 
as the Oklahoma Arapahoes, is due to the prevalence of this habit among them. 
I am inclined to think that a moderate and occasional use of the drug may 
produce no evil effects and may be beneficial in some cases, if only because 
of its purgative action. Like liquor, it may often be used with impunity, 
but tends strongly to excess and physical harm. 

Industrially, the practice is without question injurious. The physical de 
terioration will, of course, in the end. show itself in decreased industrial 
efficiency. The all-night character of their worship unfits the peyote eaters 
for active service the following day. while the influence of the drug results 
in unsteady nerves and relaxed brain. The undoubted fact that some are 
industrious may often be offset by the statement that these, like some hard 
drinkers, do not succumb because of exceptionally vigorous physiques or, 
perhaps, use the plant only in moderation. It should be further remembered 
that as the cult confessedly attracts the young, educated, and progressive it 
should show an exceptionally high degree of industrial efficiency. 

It is certain that any practice which excites the imagination and relaxes 
the will, as the use of peyote does, must result in immorality, and the facts 
bear out this reasoning. I have been told repeatedly by those who have given 
up the practice that the so-called " mescal feasts " were often the scenes of 
unbridled libertinism. In- some tribes, the Winnebagos, for example, the 
cult teaches that peyote and liquor are incompatible, and thus some restraint 
is exercised over drunkenness, but unfortunately, in most cases, the effect doe^s 
not last. Certain undoubted instances of moral reform in such tribes I would 
attribute to the influence of the Bible and Christian teaching intermingled with 
their worship rather than to the drug. 

If Christianity, the accepted religion of the most civilized races of the earth, 
has any superiority, and we contend that it has much, over the pagan or 


hybrid forms of religion practiced by aboriginal peoples, then anything that 
prevents the acceptance of the better and promotes the retention of the worst 
is a detriment to those affected. This is true of the mescal worship. By this 
intermixture of a drug habit with a pretense of Christian teaching, the young 
men of many tribes are being led into an absurd cult incompatible with Chris 
tianity, and the work of the missionaries of all churches is seriously inter 
fered with. If this undoubted disadvantage to the Indian resulted from a 
religious creed with its attendant worship alone, we could well afford to await 
the change that follows more light, but as it springs from an imported and 
vicious drug habit we believe that it is well within the power and the obliga 
tion of the Indian Office to effect its suppression. 

Professor Hrdlicka (curator. Division of Physical Anthropology, 
United States National Museum) : 

While the effects of peyote are not so violent or quite so harmful as those of 
alcohol, they are nevertheless, deleterious, and the use of the drug should be 
discouraged, and. if possible, prohibited. The effects of the drug manifest 
themselves very largely in nervous stimulation, and, in cases where larger 
doses are taken, in a sort of intoxication. These conditions, if repeated for 
a length of time, are bound not only to cause a permanent harm to the in 
dividual addicted to the mescal, but they also become a source of other ab 
normal conditions. The habitual use of peyote must be classed with the 
habitual use of drugs such as morphine or cocaine. 


In their definition of certain terms the medical and legal pro 
fessions are at variance. As in their concept of what constitutes 
insanity, they differ as to what is an intoxicant. In defining intoxi 
cation, Borland s American Medical Dictionary calls it poisoning; 
the state of being poisoned. Therefore, an intoxicant is that which 
poisons. Webster s International Dictionary defines an intoxicant 
as that u-hich intoxicates; an intoxicating agent. The word intoxi 
cate is defined as to drug or poison: to inebriate; to excite, or to 
stupefy by drink, or ly a narcotic substance, This is the definition 
accepted by the medical profession. The definition accepted by the 
legal profession is more restricted. Black, on " Intoxicating liquors," 
section 423, says: "It is held that the word intoxicated as used in 
the statutes is to be taken in its ordinary signification, and it means 
intoxicated by alcoholic liquors." The* American Encyclopedia of 
Law, second Edition, says: "The term intoxicated usually signifies 
the condition produced by drinking intoxicating spirituous liquors 
and is equivalent to drunk. 

It is illegal to introduce intoxicants into an Indian country, or 
to sell or give them to Indians, but under the restricted definition of 
the law, indictments charging violation of the law. when the intoxi 
cating agent has been peyote, have not been sustained in the courts, 
and since the drug is not named in the Harrison Antinarcotic Act 
it is held not to come within its provisions. 


The situation produced by not including it among the intoxicants 
because it is not an alcoholic intoxicant and by excluding it from the 
list of narcotics because it is not called a narcotic in any law is one of 
the strongest indications for special legislation for the regulation of 
the sale and use of the drug. If it intoxicates by poisoning, it should 
be defined in law as an intoxicant. If it is a narcotic habit-forming 
drug, dangerous to the health and welfare of the people, it should 
be made the subject of regulatory laws as are other such drugs. If 
it is neither an intoxicant nor a narcotic habit-forming drug danger 
ous to the health of the people of the United States, then all con 
troversy should be removed by careful study of the subject by an 
impartial commission of Government-appointed scientists. 

The present scientific view is that peyote is a narcotic and an in 
toxicant ; that it is a habit-forming drug possessing limited, if any. 
therapeutic properties; that it is dangerous and should be made the 
subject of restrictive legislation. 

The Indians, whose ideas of intoxicants are limited to the effects 
produced by alcohol, are sincere in their belief that peyote is not an 
intoxicant. It does not completely stupefy by its poisonous action 
on the protoplasm, but exerts its influence more particularly on the 
nervous system, leaving, unless the dose has been overwhelmingly 
large, the higher consciousness to look down, as it were, in helpless 
amazement on the warfare between the cells of nerve centers and the 
poisonous drug circulation in the blood a tragedy of mind destruc 
tion and soul dishonor. 

Alcoholic drinks may be so modified by processes of manufacture 
or by the admixture of other substances as to form agreeable bever 
ages, and. when thus prepared, they may be taken for their pleasant 
taste and not for their .stimulant effect, but this is not true of peyote. 
The taste of this substance is so unpleasant as to preclude anyone 
from developing a liking for it. It is taken solely for its effects 
for the purpose of producing intoxication. Even when it is admin 
istered for the ostensible purpose of relieving pain, the dose to be 
effective must be sufficient to obtund the sensibilities of the nerves by 
its narcotic effect that is. by its intoxicant properties. In fact, the 
value of peyote as a remedial agent has never been proved. It was 
formerly employed to some extent in the treatment of the various 
forms of neurasthenia or weakness of the nerves, hysteria, asthma, 
rheumatism, and neuralgia; but at present it is not used in scientific 
medicine, nor is it manufactured as a pharmaceutical product. ^Some 
years ago two firms of manufacturing chemists one in the United 
States and one in Germany marketed a medical preparation of 
peyote. but they no longer do so. because the physicians would not 
prescribe so dangerous a habit-forming drug of so uncertain thera 
peutic value. 



Peyote as used by the Indians of the United States bears no re 
semblance to their conception of an intoxicant. The product is the 
dried flowering top of a spineless cactus, and even when it is served 
in the form of a decoction the liquid is unfermented. They, as well 
as the majority of white people, associate the word intoxicant with 
some form of alcoholic drink. 

From the verdicts in the few 7 introduction cases which have come 
before the courts it is evident that the trend of legal opinion is that 
peyote is not an intoxicant within the meaning of the law. 

Safford, in writing of peyote under the title "An Aztec Xarcotic," 
quotes the testimony given at a trial in which it was sought by invok 
ing the aid of the law to establish a precedent which would serve as 
a basis for legal procedure to keep the drug from being carried or 
shipped into Indian country. Inasmuch as the proceedings quoted 
are a matter of record, they follow without further credit and with 
out further indication of their source : 

On March 15. 1914, a Menominee Indian boy was arraigned before a Federal 
court charged with the introduction of an intoxicant, peyote, into an Indian res 
ervation and with giving an intoxicant, peyote, to Indians in violation of the law. 

The drug had been brought from Aguilares. Tex., by parcel post and by the 
defendant taken on the Menominee Reservation in a suitcase and carried to the 
house of an Indian who was to give a peyote l function " of a religious nature. 
At the house of worship those who were to part cipate in the function first made 
a line about the house to keep out the evil spirits, and then prayed to God, ask 
ing him to make all of them good and keep them from evil. It was testified 
that the peyote was distributed to each a certain portion, and when it was eaten 
it caused the partakers thereof to see the ev.l things they had done and showed 
them the good things they ought to do. One witness stated that after he had 
eaten four buttons he could see with his eyes closed pictures of various kinds. 
First, he saw God with a bleeding wound in his side. Tlrs vision would vanish 
when he opened his eyes and reappear upon closing them, but it finally gave 
away to an hallucination of a different character, for he saw next the devil with 
horns, tail, and all, and he was black. Then he saw the bad things which he 
had done; he saw bottles of whisky that he had drunk, a watermelon which 
he had stolen, and so many other things that it would take all day to tell of 

Then he saw a cross with all kinds of colors about it, white, red. given, and 
blue. He said that he was not made helpless, and could have walked, had he 
wished, but he preferred to sit still and look at the pictures. 

Another witness testified that he ate peyote so that his soul might go up to 
God. He also testified that peyote had helped the Indians by making them lead 
better lives and forsake alcoholic drinks. 

Upon this evidence the defendant, who admitted the facts of having intro 
duced peyote into Indian country and delivering it to Indians, was acquitted on 
the ground that the meeting was of a religious character and that peyote was 
used to celebrate religious rites. 



Peyote is taken in several ways by chewing and swallowing the 
dried buttons, in a decoction or " tea," by moistening the buttons 
through holding them in the mouth for several minutes and then 
swallowing them to be digested by the stomach and by grinding 
the substance to a powder and putting it into capsules before swal 
lowing it. The most usual method, perhaps, is that of chewing and 
swallowing the buttons, as this gives the quickest action consistent 
with the avoidance of waste of any of the drug. It is said that some 
Indians make a tea from the buttons and after drinking it, eat the 
dregs so as to be sure that they have not Avasted anything. It is not 
uncommon for those who are not able to chew up the dry hard 
peyote buttons to have this done by some friend who has good teeth, 
who, after chewing the substance until it is in condition to be swal 
lowed, spits it out in his hand and returns it to its owner to do the 

The effects of peyote are probably more uniform than those of most 
intoxicants, but still there is considerable variation in them, accord 
ing to the character, disposition, susceptibility, mental characteristics, 
and physical health of the individual users. Other factors in 
fluencing variation in s} 7 mptoms are size of the dose and the number 
of previous doses taken preliminary to the debauch. 

The first appreciable sought- for effect is said to be a peculiar 
excitement of the brain, expressing itself in a feeling of contentment, 
well-being, and a friendly attitude toward the world in general. 
This feeling is soon followed or supplemented by a delightful de 
rangement of the centers of sight in the brain, which causes, more 
particularly when the eyes are closed, a constant flow of scenes of 
infinite beauty, grandeur, and a variety of both color and form which 
pass in panoramic review, the number being so great that none are 
repeated. The sense of time is greatly perverted moments are as 
minutes, minutes are as hours, and hours are as days. 

If the dose has been excessive, or if the brain is embarrassed by 
other poisons circulating in the blood, the scene may shift to one of 
unpleasant aspect, and hideous monsters, grotesque and grinning 
faces, and beings of distorted shape appear. Indians sometimes in 
terpret these disagreeable visual hallucinations as denizens from 
the abode of evil spirits sent as a warning to them to forsake their 
evil ways or as a token that they should abandon the use of peyote. 
They interpret the pleasing visions as a reflection of the beauties of 

There is no particular variation in the effect of the drug on Indians 
and white people. If the peyote is good for the Indians, it is good 


for the white people: if it is bad for the Indians, it is bad for the 
whites. It is a drug with definite physiological action, which, under 
similar conditions, is no respecter of persons or races. 


The following adaptations were made from the notes of the in 
vestigators to whom they are credited: 
Dr. Walter E. Dixon : 

The physiological action of peyote may be divided into a preliminary stage 
and a stage of intoxication. In the preliminary stage there is excitement, a 
feeling of exhilaration, and a diminished power to perceive the sensation of 
movement, performances involving effort being hardly noticed. During this 
stage the face is flushed and the pupils are dilated ; there is a tendency to 
talkativeness which may become wandering later, when the patient begins 10 
feel " light-headed." This stage is not of long duration, and is superseded by 
the second, or stage of intoxication. 

The stage of intoxication is characterized by an inclination to lie down, 
although there is never a tendency to sleep. The pupils are now widely dilated 
and react but sluggishly to light. On attempting to walk, the gait resembles 
that in alcoholic intoxication, and in all movements requiring precision the 
incoordination is evident. The body is generally in n tremulous condition, the 
tremors showing well when the attention is fixed on anything held in the 
hand. Reflexes are much increased, including the skin reflexes, although 
there is a considerable blunting of the senses of pain and touch. Twitching of 
the muscles occurs in various parts of the body, especially noticeable in the 
face, and there is a curious feeling as if the face, lips, and tongue were much 

As in the intoxication of cannabis indica. time is overestimated, possibly as 
a result of the rapid flow of ideas and the inability to fix the attention. Per 
ception of space is also modified, on one occasion giving the impression that 
the ground sloped away in all directions. 

Perception may also be delayed ; for example, one under the influence of 
peyote may look at a person he knows well and not be able to recognize him 
for what appears to the experimenter a considerable time. This delay may be 
more apparent than real, owing to the increased time relation. As might be 
expected, the attention can not be fixed during this stage, the least stimulus 
being sufficient to alter the train of thought. It was found impossible to fix 
the attention on a book, and a subsequent examination of notes attempted dur 
ing the stage of intoxication showed incoordination both as regards language 
and writing. 

On two occasions when deeply under the influence of the drug there was an 
indescribable feeling of dual existence ; thus, after sitting with closed eyes sub 
jectively examining the color visions, on suddenly opening them for a brief 
space one seems to be a different self, as on waking from a dream we pass into 
a different world from that in which we have been. This may be, to some ex 
tent, comparable to the rhythmical rise and fall of the " psychic waves " in In 
dian hemp intoxication. 

But by far the most remarkable of these subjective phenomena are the sen 
sory hallucinations, especially visual. These arise gradually, and are at first 
seen only with closed eyes ; in the early stage they show an undulatory motion 
in zigzagged lines, but they rapidly become more marked, until on closing the 

PEYOTE. 2 1 

eyes a regular kaleidoscopic play of colors can be seen with either eye, pre 
cisely the same, which indicates that condition must be central. 

These colors may assume all kinds of fantastic shapes; they are never still, 
but constantly in motion, sometimes in a circular or to-and-fro manner, but more 
generally there is a kind of pulsation somewhat similar to that in the cine 
matograph. It is interesting to note that pressure on the eyeball is sufficient 
to alter the colors and change the type of vision. In no case were visions of 
external objects seen, but always the same dashes of color, of a brilliance and 
blending which in the intoxicated condition seemed to be of indescribable 
beauty, and even as a memory still possess a charm. The coloring of all ex 
ternal objects is intensified. The light-blue shadows seen with the eyes open 
in this stage are probably due to the dilatation of the pupils. 

The eft ect of the sound of the piano was most curious and delightful, the whole 
air being filled with music, each note of which seemed to arrange around itself 
a medley of other notes which appeared to be surrounded by a halo of color 
pulsating to the music. 

Doctors Prentiss and Morgan : 

The production of visions is the most interesting of the physiological effects 
of peyote. The visions ranged from ill-defined flashes of color to most beautiful 
figures, forms, landscapes, dances in fact, there seemed to be absolutely no 
limit to the variety of visions which the drug could produce. They can in but 
few cases be seen with the eyes open, but upon closing them an everchanging 
panorama appears. The predominating features of the visions are the color 
effects, although the figures, forms, and other presentations are in themselves 
sources of pleasure and admiration. Drumming or otherwise marking regular 
time enhances the beauty and variety of the objects seen. In some cases the 
visions are under the control of the will, while less frequently they are ap 
parently subject to the suggestion of others. The amount of pleasure derived 
from the drug seems to vary inversely with the amount of muscular depression 
present. The effect of the drug in the production of visions is in all probability 
due to. the stimulation of the centers of vision in the brain. The persistent 
headache and the feeling. of exhaustion in the occipital region, which are some 
times "experienced as after effects, are of interest in this connection. 

In some cases no effect of the drug is apparent upon the reason or will of the 
user. In others there may be slowness of thought, loss of the power of expres 
sion, or even marked delusions. Compared with alcoholic intoxicants, the effect 
on the mind is slight. 

Dilatation of the pupils is a constant effect, and persists from 12 to 24 hours 
after the last dose of the drug. The dilatation is accompanied by a slight loss of 
the power of accommodation and a consequent loss of vision. 

More or less depression of the muscular system is produced and may be 
noticed as the first effect of the drug. Such depression ranges from a feeling 
of la xy contentment to marked muscular depression, according to the suscepti 
bility of the individual. Whether the sedative action is caused by depression of 
the nerve centers, peripheral nerves, or their nerve endings, or of the muscular 
fibers themselves, is not positively known ; however, the weight of opinion is 
inclined to the belief that it is due to depression of the nervous system and not 
of the muscular fibers themselves. As the effects of the drug subside a partial 
loss of feeling in the skin may appear as a symptom in some cases. 

The heart action is at first rendered more slow and somewhat weaker in 
quality. This is followed by a rise to the normal in quality and rapidity, which 
continues during the period of greatest activity of the dnr. 


The respiration may partake of the general muscular depression, but as a rule 
is not much affected by moderate doses of the drug. 

Upon the stomach the drug produces an effect which varies from a feeling of 
uneasiness and fullness at intervals to nausea and vomiting. 

Inability to sleep for at least 12 hours after the effects of the drug begin to 
wear off is a constant symptom. 

Loss of the sense of time is also a constant symptom. 

The effect upon the bowels, skin, temperature, and the amount of secretion of 
the various glands of the body are not constant. 

The physiological action of peyote upon man can not be said to be identical 
with that of any other known drug. Its effects resemble those of certain drugs 
in some of the symptoms produced, but differ widely from them in others. 
Cannabis indica produces visions and dilates the pupils, exerting slight effect 
upon the circulation. In these particulars, its action is similar to that of peyote. 
But cannabis indica is a hypnotic, and the delirium and hallucinations are in 
most cases followed by sleep, while peyote, on the other hand, invariably tends 
to produce wakefulness. The Indians do not sleep for 24 hours after the com 
mencement of their ceremonies. In this tendency to produce wakefulness 
peyote resembles cocaine. 

The visions produced by cannabis indica are generally of a gay character, 
producing much merriment, accompanied by a great inclination to muscular 
movement. The visions of peyote provoke wonder and admiration, but no 
merriment. There is a disinclination toward muscular effort. 

Cushney s Materia Medica : 

Peyote is similar to opium and cannabis indica, but more frequent color 
visions are produced. The drug does not cause the same amount of merriment 
that cannabis indica does, nor the sleep that morphine does. It produces im 
perfect coordination of movement, retards perception, and causes errors in the 
estimation of time, due to its action on the cerebrum. Large doses cause de 
pression of the respiratory and circulatory centers. 

Merck s Index, 190T : 

Mescal buttons cause intoxication accompanied by nrost wonderful visions, 
beautiful and varied kaleidoscopic changes, sensations of increased physical 

Conclusions based upon laboratory tests of the physiological action 
of peyote made by Prof. Roswell P. Angler, of Yale University, were 
summarized as follows: 

1. Interferes with accuracy of movement. 

2. Impairs the steadiness and precision of movement. 

3. Retards visual apprehension. 

4. Reduces accuracy and concentration of attention. 

5. Lessens the memory of ideas. 

All experiments taken together seem to indicate, at least, that under the 
influence of peyote control over the motor coordination of muscles suffers; 
that power of attention is not so great; and that such effort produces more 
fatigue than when exerted in the normal state. Furthermore, it appears that 
the range of apprehension and memory also suffers. Even with small doses of 
the drug the general efficiency of the body is lessened. Under the influence of 
peyote if work is attempted it is performed with a sort of superficial haste. 



United States Dispensatory, nineteenth edition : 

The value of mescal buttons as a remedial agent is doubtful ; it has been 
employed to a slight extent in various forms of neurasthenia and hysteria, 
and is asserted by S. F. Landry to be especially valuable in cases of asthma. 
It has also been alleged to be useful in neuralgic and rheumatic affections. 
It may prove of value as a nerve stimulant in cases of hypochondriasis and 
similar states where there is a tendency to failure of the heart. Prentiss and 
Morgan give the dose of the crude drug as from 7 to 15 grains ; of the fluid 
extract, from 10 to 15 minims; of the 10 per cent tincture, from 1 to 2 tea- 

The therapeutic effects of peyote, so far as is known, would 
seem to satisf}^ Borland s definition of a narco-stimulant; that is to 
say, the drug possesses both narcotic and stimulant properties. The 
action of the isolated alkaloids is different from that of the crude 
drug. Borland defines a narcotic as "Any drug that produces sleep 
or stupor, and at the same time relieves pain." 

One of the alkaloids is said to produce sleep when administered 
h3 T podermically. The crude drug, like cocaine, causes wakefulness, 
but acts as a narcotic in other respects. 

The Indian use of peyote for therapeutic purposes has been too 
empirical to be of value. It is used for every indication because 
of its narcotic properties. Two of the largest drug-manufacturing 
houses of the world, the only firms that ever introduced peyote into 
scientific medicine, abandoned it because physicians would not pre 
scribe it. 

If it has any real therapeutic value, it has not yet been determined, 
nor have the dosage and preparation been standardized ; hence it is 
safer to let it alone. 


Section 6 of the food and drugs act of June 30, 1906. defines the 
term drug and food in a proviso, stating : 

That the term " drug " as used in this act shall include all medicines and 
preparations recognized in the United States Pharmacopoeia or National Formu 
lary for internal and external use, and any substance or mixture of substances 
intended to be used for the care, mitigation, or prevention of diseases of either 
man or other animals. The term " food," as used herein, shall include all 
articles used for food or drink, by man or other animals, whether simple, mixed, 
or compound. 

Peyote does not appear to come within the foregoing definition 
of medicine or food as it has been interpreted by the courts. It is 
not recognized by the United States Pharmacopoeia, nor is it men 
tioned in the National Formulary. Its use as an " Indian medicine " 


is not recognized scientifically. In fact, it has at present no place or 
recognition in materia medica. It is not used as a food to nourish 
the body, nor can it properly be called a beverage, for it is not used 
to allay thirst. Its principal use in the form of a liquid is as " holy 
water" or as a convenient way of forcing babies to take it or of 
administering it to those who can not chew the " buttons." 

Customhouse detention of peyote has been brought about by invok 
ing a law to be found in section 11 of the act of June 30, 1906 (34 
Stat, 768-772) reading, in part, as follows: 

The Secretary of the Treasury shall deli VIM- to the Secretary of Agriculture, 
upon bis request from time to time, samples of foods and drugs which are being 
imported into the United States or offered for import, giving notice thereof to 
the owner or consignee, who may appear before the Secretary of Agriculture, 
and have the right to introduce testimony, and if it appear from the examination 
of such samples that any article of food or drug offered to be imported into the 
United States is adulterated * * * or is otherwise dangerous to the health 
of the people of the United States * * * the said article shall be refused 
admission, and the Secretary of the Treasury shall refuse delivery to the con 
signee and shall cause the destruction of any goods refused delivery which shall 
not be exported by the consignee within three months from the date of notice 
of such refusal under such regulations as the Secretary of the Treasury may 

Under the authority of the foregoing section of the food and 
drugs act, the bureau has been able to detain shipments coming into 
the country from Mexico through customhouses, as may be seen from 
the regulation which appeared in " Service and Regulatory An 
nouncement Xo. 13. " Department of Agriculture. Bureau of Chem 
istry, issued May 3, 1915 : 

The branch laboratories of the bureau have been instructed to detain all ship 
ments of "peyote synonyms " hikulu." "mescal buttons" offered for im 
port at the various ports, on the ground -that it is an article dangerous to the 
liealth of the people of the United States. " Peyote " is a product derived from 
the plants of the genus "Anhalonium, order Cactacae." 

The effect of the regulation has been to make it somewhat less 
convenient to get peyote. but it has not lessened the supply. 

Under the act of January 30, 1897 (29 Stat, 506), it is made an 
offense " to furnish any article whatsoever under any name, label, 
or brand which produces intoxication to any Indian ward of the 

A test case was brought before a United States court under the 
foregoing statute, but it was held that in law the definition of an 
intoxicant is restricted to alcoholic preparations. 

If any obstacle is to be interposed against the peyote habit other 
than that of education, there is need of a special law or an amend 
ment to the Harrison Narcotic Act. 



The peyote societies are not stoically indifferent toward the agi 
tation for legislation against peyote. There appear to be organiza 
tions in opposition to such a program, and they are very active in 
their propaganda for their constitutional rights. They have their 
paid attorneys to advise them and to represent them. They have 
their influential sponsors and they have their friends in Congress 
all sincere in their opinions that peyote is making the Indians bet 
ter, making them sober and industrious. They are sincerely inter 
ested in the welfare of the Indians, and the task is to demonstrate 
to them and to the Indians that they are in error: that the use of 
pevote instead of being a constitutional privilege and a blessing is 
an error of constitutional interpretation and an insidious curse. 

The peyote users among the Indians rest their case on two points 
their constitutional rights and the benefits of peyote. Indians who 
are opposed to peyote argue that the peyote users do not constitute 
a church organization, but a collection of peyote eaters banded 
together in a sort of social fellowship to enjoy the privilege of 
meeting in friendly gatherings to experience the seductive pleasures 
of the weird form of intoxication produced by consuming their 
religious fetish peyote: also that the use of the drug is harmful to 
the addicts and militates against their moral, physical, and mental 
welfare through its insidious power to do evil. 


Dr. Harvey W. Wiley in testifying before the Senate Committee 
on Indian Affairs said, in brief: 

* * * This is the point which I desire to bring before this committee that 
a substance which is not a food, and which does exert a powerful influence upon 
the nerve centers because that is where it must be exerted finally should not 
be used except for medicinal purposes, and then only under the advice and super 
vision of a competent physician. 

Now. that is the attitude which we hold toward drugs similar to peyote and 
all intoxicating drugs. We also take the same position toward the powerful 
remedies that are not intoxicating in the ordinary sense, although they may 
be toxic in their general effect, but we speak of intoxication as some derange 
ment of the mental structure, and followed by a lack of coordination in the 
physical structure. 

We have laws carefully controlling the use of such drugs in this country, 
laws passed by Congress and many by the States. The Harrison narcotic law, 
so called, is an attempt and a fairly successful one to limit the use of opium 
and cocaine, on account of the fact that they have the properties, which I have 
just mentioned, of intoxication. 

The people of the United States have ratified an amendment to the Constitu 
tion controlling alcohol, which is an intoxicant, and thus the principle that 
these dangerous drugs should be controlled has been written into the Constitu- 


tion and the opposition to legislation of this kind on the grounds that it is 
unconstitutional, that it interferes with personal liberty, or that it is a matter 
that should be left to the individual judgment is not tenable, because, had we 
followed that principle, we would have had none of these acts of restrictive 

Now, I think that the people who are exposed to dangers of this kind are 
usually very much opposed to being protected. That is true particularly with 
regard to alcohol, opium, cocaine, and other habit-forming drugs, and I call this 
peyote and believe it to be a habit-forming drug for this reason ; if we should 
listen to the arguments of those who want to use the drug or have used it 
or any kind of a drug which is regulated by legislation we would not have any 
legislation of any kind. 

It seems to me those who should control, so far as argument is concerned, 
are persons who are not subject to the drug themselves, who have no desire to 
use it for themselves, but who have the welfare of the people who use this 
drug at heart. * * * 

I would not regard as a religious cult any exhibition or exercise produced by 
a toxic drug. I do not believe in that kind of culture. * * * So far as 
building up a peyote church is concerned, if that is established we will have 
an alcohol church and a cocaine church and a tobacco church, and any other 
person who wants to use a drug and escape legal penalties for doing so can call 
it a religious rite. It is a drug addiction, pure and simple. 


Under date of March 28, 1919. the Indian Office issued a question 
naire of 21 interrogations pertaining to peyote, designated as cir 
cular 1522, addressed to the superintendents with instructions to 
render the questionnaires themselves and to secure accomplishments 
from their physicians, field matrons, and farmers. They were also 
directed to submit the questionnaires to the missionaries working 
among their Indians and to transmit the returns as independent 
reports. Copies of the circular were sent to inspecting officials and 
special liquor suppression officers. 

The interrogatories and requests for information incorporated in 
the said circular were as follows : 

Ed-L & O. 
Circular No. 1522. 



Washington, March 28, 1919. 
To superintendents, inspecting officials, physicians, and others interested: 

The office desires to obtain reliable and authoritative information to date as 
to the growth and the present status of the use of peyote by Indians and the 
effects from such use. 

Superintendents in charge of reservations are instructed to submit reports 
from their physicians, field matrons, and farmers on the subject in addition 
to their own report. The missionaries should also be requested to submit a 


report through you answering the questions herein presents. Please submit 
your report by May 1, 1919, if possible, covering the following phases of the 
subject : 

1. Give the name of agency and Indians covered by your report. 

2. What opportunity have you had to observe the use and effects of peyote or 
mescal, where peyote is so called? 

3. Do these Indians use peyote? If so. what percentage of them use it? 

4. Do the Indians eat the button; or drink the liquid after steeping; or how 
is it prepared for use? 

5. What is the moral, mental, and physical effect produced by the use of 
peyote? Does it cause intoxication? 

6. Are the Indians who use peyote any more or any less industrious, thrifty, 
advanced, or civilized, than those who do not use it? 

7. Upon what do you base your answers to questions 5 and 6? 

8. Is the peyote button used in connection with any religious services? If 
so, how. and under what rules as to fixed times, quantity, membership, and 
other conditions? 

9. Is its use in religious service a long established custom of the tribe or a 
recent innovation? Give data, if practicable. 

10. If the practice is recent, by whom was it introduced? . 

11. In the case of those who profess to use peyote as a sacrament at religious 
services, do they use it also at other times? 

12. Is it used by Indians at meetings other than those of a religious char 
acter? If so, give information relative thereto. 

33. At religious services or other meetings is peyote given to all who attend 
regardless of whether they are adults or children? 

14. How long do the peyote services or meetings last, and what are their 
effect on those who attend? State facts clearly. 

15. From your information and observation do you believe the plea that 
peyote is used as a religious sacrament is genuine, or that it is advanced as a 
cloak to prevent legislative enactment against the use of the drug? Upon what 
do you base your answer? 

16. Is peyote used or administered as a medicine? If so, by whom, in what 
cases, and how is it administered? 

17. Give specific instances of cases within your knowledge where the use 
or administration of peyote has been harmful or degrading. 

38. Through what agency is the peyote button distributed among the Indians 
of the jurisdiction upon which you are reporting? 

19. Where does the supply come from? If shipped in, how, to whom, and 
from whom? 

20. Has the question whether it is in fact an intoxicant been presented to 
and decided by the courts or has it been passed upon by other authority? 

21. Give any other information you may be able to furnish in connection 
with its use. 


A summary of the 302 answers is submitted. Some of the infor 
mation is condensed into tabular statements, some arranged as 
synopses, and some as running comment. 

In assembling the answers to that part of question 3 requiring a 
statement of the percentage of peyote users it was observed that in 


many cases the percentage of the families associated with the cult 
was stated regardless of the number of individuals who were ac 
tually addicted to the habit, as for instance, if in a band of Indians 
numbering 600 there could be counted 30 peyote families, aggre 
gating 150 individuals, the report might show 150 users, or a per 
centage of 25; or it might take cognizance of the adults only 
that is, of those more than 18 years of age, say, husbands and wives, 
60; children of 18 years or more. 30; total. 90, or a percentage of 15. 
The truth in such a case might be that only men were partakers, 
and perhaps they might not be habitual users; hence it became neces 
sary to adopt some scheme of classification to which all reports 
could be reduced, whereupon it was decided to employ the group 
heading " Number affected by peyote/ Under this classification are 
enumerated all peyote users and the families in which they belong. 
The actual number of users, of course, is considerably less than the 
number affected by peyote, since the young children and frequently 
other members of the family are not addicted. In adopting this 
classification the secret users who are not reported, if there be any, 
are more than accounted for in the enumeration of nonusing children 
under this caption. 


Question 1. Answers embodied in Table 1. 

Question 2. Nearly all the answers displayed considerable knowledge of the 
subject on the part of those making them, and in cases where opinions were 
expressed or examples cited personal knowledge derived from intimate observa 
tion and inquiry was claimed by the testifiers. 

Question 3. (See Tables 1 and 2.) 

Question 4. An analysis of the answers to this question shows that though 
eating the button is probably the most usual way of partaking of peyote, except 
as a medicine, because it is the most convenient way, the method of the use of 
the drug has not been made the subject of ritual law or priestly regulation. 
For administration as a remedial agent, to be used internally, or as a local 
application either for its medicinal effect or exorcismal functions, and also when 
it is employed in celebrating baptism or for other sacramental purposes, or as a 
holy water, an infusion or decoction of the peyote buttons is used. 

The buttons are sometimes ground into powder, which is put Into capsules by 
those who prefer this method of administration. Others soak the buttons in 
water before swallowing them. This precaution eliminates to a great extent the 
necessity for mastication, facilitates the process of swallowing, and lessens the 
time during which the bitter, disagreeable-tasting substance must remain in the 
mouth before it is " ready for action." 

The young people and others who have good teeth will accommodatingly chew 
the buttons into a pulpy mass for those whose teeth are bad. When the bolus 
is " all right now," it is transferred by the chewer into the palm of the donee, 
who with his fingers compresses it into a spherical mass, "slaps it into his 
mouth," rubs the back of his neck with his left hand and his stomach with his 
right and " lets her go." knowing that he will get prompt action with no further 


expenditure of effort. (The quoted words are not from the files but from an 
oral description of peyote methods by a young English-speaking Indian.) 

Without questioning the altruistic character of the motive which actuates the 
" vicarious " chewers, it is conceivable that they, particularly those who make 
a practice of chewing for others, are not oblivious to the fact that a certain 
amount of unavoidable toll is taken by their systems from the " peyote juice " 
mixed with the saliva, which is invariably swallowed as a matter of economy. 

When an infusion or decoction of the drug is used, known as " peyote tea," 
even the dregs or grounds are eaten, and also when the buttons are soaked to 
make them softer, the liquid is utilized true examples of conservation. 

Question 5. With the exception of three agencies, all the reports assert that 
the moral, mental, and physical effects of peyote are detrimental. The following 
descriptive terms and expressions are taken from the various answers to this 
question, and arranged in the order in which they appeared in the interrogatory : 

Moral effects. Debasing, deadens moral sensibilities, tends to immorality, 
tends to licentiousness; makes its victims liars; morally degenerating; weakens 
resistance power ; has same effect as liquor on morals ; like opium ; like any 
other drug habit; eliminates moral power; it is a surprise to me and appears 
to be to everyone else * * * for if anything could be said in favor of the 
continuation of its use it would be that it probably will exterminate those who 
use it ; weakens the moral fiber ; lowers moral efficiency ; degrading in every 
particular; degrading and degenerating; leads to sexual perversion; makes 
degenerates out of the Indians; it ruins those who use it mentally, morally, 
and physically ; continued use of peyote causes mental, moral, and physical 
degeneration ; weakens in every respect ; increases immorality without a doubt. 

Mental effects. Increases the imagination ; makes its victims noncommittal ; 
produces visions ; makes the mind stupid ; deadens the intellect ; stupefies ; 
produces lethargy ; makes the mind stupid, especially in children ; weakens will 
power and opinions; causes the users to lose interest; stimulates the mind at 
first, followed by reaction; acts like opium or morphine; degrading in every 
particular ; its use produces stupor ; weakens them mentally ; those who have 
the habit are indolent, shiftless, and have no fixed purpose ; the continued use 
of peyote makes the users dead-headed and stupid. 

Physical effects Produces yellow color and drawn look; impairs nerve 
stability; produces physical degeneration and weakness; makes its users in 
different; produces certain diseases and leads to early decay and death Tmay 
lead to insanity; makes the body sluggish; stupefies children; weakens the 
body; weakens the offspring. 

Does peyote cause intoxication? With the exception of three or four an 
swers, the opinion is expressed that peyote causes intoxication. Some call the 
period of reaction the condition of intoxication, and others refer to the period 
of stimulation, the stage of visions, as a state of intoxication, while others 
regard the first effects, which produce a feeling of general contentment and well 
being as a manifestation of intoxication. 

Only one answer and that was made by a missionary stated that there is 
no effect. From a legal point of view the term intoxicant should be re 
stricted to that which produces a form of intoxication coming within the 
definition the condition produced by the excessive use of alcoholic stimulants. 
There is certainly some change in the feelings and mental condition produced 
bv peyote which is agreeable to the users, and while experiencing this changed 
feeling due to peyote those in whom the effects are manifested are not in 
their normal condition, and if the dose has been sufficiently large they are 
affected mentally, morally, and physically, according to an analysis of the 


vast preponderance of the testimony submitted in the answers under considera 

Question 6. With one notable exception the superintendents who answer 
the question are practically of one opinion as to whether Indians who use 
peyote are more industrious, more thrifty, and more advanced than those who 
do not use it, all agreeing that the use of the drug, either directly or indirectly, 
is detrimental to industry, thrift, and advancement. Two farmers and one 
missionary submit what might be termed a minority report sustaining the 
view expressed by the superintendent who alleges that peyote users are more 
industrious, more thrifty, and more advanced than Indians who do not use it. 
Among Indians who are moderate or occasional users of peyote the indirect 
effects are more noticeable than the direct effects, for the members of the peyote 
bands must pay the expense of holding the peyote feasts and they must neglect 
their work to attend. A Utah Indian alleges that he had to sell two head of 
cattle to pay his pro rata share of one of the feasts given by his band, but 
undoubtedly the average feast would be less expensive; however, there is 
abundant evidence to show that many an Indian who desires peyote prominence 
will spend from $50 to $500 annually to establish and maintain his rigiht 
to the title of good fellow. Peyote comradeship leads to a free expression of 
the natural trait of liberality, so characteristic of the Indian race, but un 
fortunately it is also conducive to poverty and debt, with their diststrous 
consequences to industrial progress and thrift possibilities. 

Question 7. The answers made to interrogatories 5 and 6, involving the 
expression of individual opinions upoji the effects of peyote upon the moral, 
mental, and physical nature of the Indians who use the drug, upon whether 
peyote was an intoxicant, and whether the peyote habit affected the condition 
of the Indians with regard to their industrial attainments, habits of thrift, 
and status of civilization, elaim to be based upon observation, inquiry, and 
investigation. For the most part the variation in answers may be explained 
by the different ways in which the questions were interpreted, some evidently 
thinking that they referred to near effects that is to the immediate action 
of the drug and others understanding that they meant the remote or terminal 
effects or results of the use of peyote. 

Question 8. All Indians other than those of the pueblo of Taos, N. Mex., 
and ^he Northern Cheyennes of Tongue River Reservation, Mont., claim that 
their use of peyote is primarily a religious rite, and that peyote is both a 
sacrament and a medicine. The Tongue River Indians and the Taos Indians 
hold that peyote is an Indian medicine and that it was created for the Indians 
and not for white people. They frankly admit that they take it because they 
believe in it as a medicine and because they like the effect produced by it. 

On a few reservations the use of peyote is apparently restricted to its re 
ligious and so-called medicinal use, but among the majority of Indians who par 
take of the drug the prime consideration is the sensation produced by it. The 
habitual user will take a dose anywhere and whenever he can get it. Some 
carry it in their pockets like tobacco, while others do not care to indulge alone 
but prefer to meet and enjoy it together. This class may take advantage of any 
meeting to show their sociability. As a rule peyote meetings are held at regu 
lar set intervals or at the call of the leaders. The scheduled meetings are some 
times held weekly, Saturday night being the time of selection, semimonthly or 
monthly according to the season of the year, the supply of peyote, the condi 
tion of the weather, the roads and the financial condition of the leaders and 
the members. The cost of small peyote meetings are functions given by the 
leaders and others and are subscription affairs. Nearly all the scheduled or ad- 


vertised meetings have a religious aspect. The accidental meetings are simply 
the improvement of opportunities for sociability, such meetings frequently 
being the accidental coming together of a few kindred souls. 

The membership of a peyote lodge is usually made up of adult males, that is 
to say, of males that are more than IS years of age. but this does not mean that 
the women and children are excluded. The former are an essential part of 
the meeting. They prepare the feast and also partake of the drug, but gener 
ally they take no part in the public function in " putting on the ritual/ Chil 
dren may also attend, but they do not take peyote as a rule except when it is 
given to them as medicine. The taste is not inviting, nor would a small child 
like the sensation of peyote intoxication, for children and the lower animals 
want to feel natural and are uncomfortable when they have an "artificial 

Indians are generous, and their tables, even at a peyote feast, are set in the 
open communion plan and in the spirit of " whosoever will, let him come and 
partake freely," regardless of station, age. sex, or previous condition. 

Question 9. The answers as to when the peyote habit was taken up by the 
Indians of the United States range from 2 to 55 years ago, the greater number 
having reference to the Kiowas, who have used the drug for a long time. The 
use of peyote among Indians other than the Kiowas and Comauches is of com 
paratively recent date, being introduced perhaps in the eighties, but did not 
begin to spread until 1895 or later. 

Question 10. The extension of the peyote habit may be traced directly through 
" apostolic succession " to Aztec origin. The knowledge of the drug has been 
carried from one tribe to another by missionary activity actuated more by a 
yearning for leadership and power than by faith in its religious significance. 
While a few Indians have been able to maintain themselves by preaching the 
gospel of peyote. it would seem t^hat there has been no organized effort to com 
mercialize this form of weakness, nor has the drug been subjected to the 
machinations of profiteering merchants or the schemes of monopolists. 

The habit may be carried from one reservation to another by visiting Indians 
whose principal object is to pass along something new, something of interest, 
something that will add ambassadorial features to an ordinary intertribal visit. 
An Indian makes a good missionary. He likes to spread glad tidings and he 
likes the acclaim of the multitude. There is not a single case on record where 
a white man has been instrumental in introducing the peyote habit among In 
dians. The propagandist or pioneer is invariably an Indian, a peyote mission 
ary who seeks to spread his gospel and to live by his gospel, or he is just an 
ordinary fellow who is seeking cheap notoriety and some sort of recognition. 

Question 11. As heretofore expressed in different language, some Indians use 
peyote only at religious meetings; others are true addicts and use it daily. 
There are still others who are habitual partakers in public, regardless of the 
character of the meeting, but do not use it privately. These form the class who 
are attracted to it because it promotes sociability. 

A careful study of the answers to question 11 reveals the fact that the peyote 
habit in a tribe is modified to a great extent by environment and opportunity. 
The more peyote they have the more meetings they have, and the more meetings 
they have the more peyote they use. The only advantage a religious meeting 
has over any other kind of Indian meeting in promoting the use of peyote lies 
in the stimulus of preparation and purpose. 

Question 12. Peyote is used at meetings other than those of a religious char 
acter, and it is used in private, but such use is incidental, as a rule, to the 
habit. According to the analysis of the answers to question 12, practically all 
distinctive peyote meetings are characterized by a religious feature. 


Question 13. The information given in answer to this question shows that 
there is considerable variation in various local customs. On account of its 
disagreeable taste, peyote is not sought after by children ; however, boys and 
girls of 8 to 10 years of age have been known to become addicts. A peyote 
meeting is generally conducted on the open-communion plan, but, as a rule, 
children do not partake. 

Question 14. This question, as indicated by the variation in answers, has 
been considered under different interpretations. Some have included under the 
term " services " the preparation and the feast portion of the meetings, while 
others have omitted these. Furthermore, some have answered that part of the 
question relating to the effects of the meetings under the assumption that infor 
mation was sought concerning the immediate action of the narcotic, while others 
have discussed the remote or accumulative effects. 

The average scheduled peyote meeting, lasting one night and nearly one day, 
will dissipate for the participants not less than three days of time and for the 
leaders or managers at least four days. The former spends one day in making 
preparations, going, and returning, and one night and one day at the feast, and 
one day in recovering from the immediate effects. The latter, in addition to the 
three days which are required of all, must spend at least another day in notify 
ing the guests (invitations are not necessary) and in providing the feast and 
attending to the preliminaries. 

The peyote portion of the meeting is usually from sunset to sunrise. The day 
after a peyote night is spent in lounging around and feasting. By selecting: 
Saturday as the initial day of the meeting, they have all day Sunday for re 
habilitation ; Monday also is frequently necessary. 

In some sections peyote meetings are protracted to two or four weeks, de 
pending upon the supply of peyote. Where this practice prevails, only tw r o or 
three meetings are held a year. 

T|]P i]fip nf ppyntP is n timf-killing habit, and in^thisjgspecf there rnn he nc 
question as to its militating against the industrial progress of those who have 

Question 15. The majority of those who have answered this question believe 
that with the leaders the use of peyote as a sacrament is for the purpose of pre 
venting the enactment of legislation against the narcotic. Yet even the mission 
aries, for the most part, concede that some of the full bloods, particularly the 
old people, are sincere in their profession of faith a faith that is based on the 
traditions of the past and now frequently propounded to them by young men 
who have been educated in government "schools. The old fellows believe sin 
cerely in the cult, for is not peyote worship near enough like the white man s 
religion to have the approval of the "Great Spirit"? They are told that the 
differences are only adaptations because peyote religion is for the Indian only, 
and the white man s religion is for white people. 

Question 16. The consensus of answers shows that peyote is administered as a 
remedial agent by the medicine man, by the priests of the cult/by old women, 
and by habitual users. It is usually administered as a tea, both internally 
and locally, and is used as a remedy for every kind of disease. It may be used 
as a medicine in any other form, or it is regarded as equally efficacious as an 
exorcissory agent. 

Question 17. Probably half of those answering this question make citations 
of specific cases showing the harmful or degrading effects of the habitual use 
of the drug. 

Question 18. Peyote is invariably distributed among Indians by other Indians. 
One Indian may supply two or three reservations, or one congregation may 



get their supply from another congregation. The Indians apparently do not 
seek to make a profit on the sales of peyote among themselves. 

Question 19. Peyote is obtained from Texas and Mexico. A curio merchant 
in Ponca City, Okla., does a somewhat extensive local and mail order business 
in this commodity, his supplies coming from Mexico and Texas. 

Peyote finds its way to the reservations by parcel post, by express, occasionally 
by freight, in the suitcases of " pilgrims," and in the pockets of visitors. 

Question 20. There are mentioned two cases in both of which it was decided 
that the effects of peyote do not conform to the legal definition of intoxication. 
The Utah State Board of Pharmacy holds that it is an intoxicant, and under 
the laws of both Utah and Colorado its use is prohibited. Oklahoma formerly 
had a law against it, but it was omitted in the codification of the State Statutes 
and thus repealed. Since this law ceased to exist in Oklahoma, the State has 
granted a charter to the peyote cultists under the name of " The Native 
American Church." 

A decision was rendered by a justice of the peace in a small Nebraska town, 
holding that peyote is an intoxicant. 

Question 21. Several writers have taken advantage of the liberty granted by 
this question to protest against the waste of time entailed in attendance upon 
peyote functions. The meetings are often held during the dry seasons and 
seriously interfere with the harvesting of the crops, even when such meetings 
are .restricted to Saturday nights and Sundays, for there must be taken into 
consideration the preparation day before and " the day after," when very little 
work is done. Protests are also made against the serious drain made upon the 
financial resources of the Indians who give the functions. In their efforts to 
keep up appearances and be good fellows they are impoverishing themselves; 
and finally the superintendents plead for the lower animals, for the horses that 
are overdriven, and for the poor creatures which are neglected from the day 
of notification to the day of restoration to a normal condition. 

TABLE 1. Showing the number of Indians affected by peyote at each agency in 
the United States, and the relation of such numbers, expressed in terms of j 
percentage, to the population of each jurisdiction concerned. 

[NOTE. For definition of the phrase "affected by peyote as used in Table 1, see Summary of the Answers 
to the Questionnaire, last paragraph.] 


Indian tribes. 




Paiute Shoshoni Moache . 

1 58S 


Blackfeet Blood, Piegan 




Mojave-Apache . . 



\rapaho Cheyenne 








Cheyenne River 

Blackfeet/ Miniconjou, Sans Arc, Two Kettle 


Coeur d Alene, Kalispel, Kootenai 


Cocopa Kewai Mojave, Chemehuevi 

- 1.184 


Coeur d Alene, Colville, Kalispel, Okanogan, 


Lake Methow, Nespelera, Pend d Oreille, 
Sannoil. Spokane (Confederated Colville). 
Mountain Crow, River Crow 




Lower Yanktonai Sioux 



Chehalis, Muckleshoot, Nisquali, Skokomish 



(Clallam), Squaxon Island. 


a lio e n 



Five Civilized Tribes.. . 

Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Creek, Seminole. 
Flandreau Sioux 





TABLE l.Showmp the number of Indians affected by peiiote, etc. Continued. 


Indian (rites. 





Per cent 


Bitter Root, Carlos, Flathead, Kutenai, Lower 


Kalispel, Pend d Oreille (Confederated Flat- 





Fort Apache 

White Mountain Apache 


Fort Belknap 




Fort Bid well 

Digger Paiute Pit River 


Fort Hall 

Bannock Shoshoni Skull Valley 




Fort Lapwai 

i Nez Perce 


Fort McDermitt 




Fort Mojave 

Fort Peck 
Fort Totten 

Assiniboine, Brule, Santee, Teton, Hunkpapa, 
Yanktonai Sioux. 
Assiniboine Cuthead, Santee, Sisseton, Yank- 





Fort Yuina 

ton, Wahpeton Sioux. 
Yurna . 




; Paiute . . 



Grand Portage 

j Chippewa 



Grand Rapids (now 

1 372 


35 ft 

Wisconsin Rapids). 

Digger Wa^ho Concow Ukit? 








Hayward .... 




Hoopa Valley 

Hunsatung Hupa Klamath River, Miskut, 

1 485 



Redwood, Saiaz, Sarmalton, Tishtanatan. 
Jicarilla Apache 





Kaibab Faiute 






1 1 758 




Iowa Kickapoo Sac and Fox 





Apache, Comanche, Delaware. Kiowa, Wichila, 

4 583 

3 437 


Klamath . 

and affiliated bands. 
Klamath Modoc Paiute Pit River Walpape 

1 160 



Lac du Flambeau 

Yakooskin Band of Snake (Shoshoni). 









La Pointe 

1 054 



Leech Lake 

Cass Lake, Pillager and Lake Winibigoshish 

1 786 




Bands of Chippewa. 

1 441 



Lower Brule 










i 1 097 





Mississippi Choctaw 


1 253 



Moapa River 






Hopi, Navajo 

Navajo . . 

12 080 




Hoh Makah Ozette Quileute 




Nett Lake 

Boi 11 Fort Band of Chippewa 



Paiute . . . 




New York.. . 

4 T oao 


fonawanda, Tuscarora, Montauk, Poospa- 
tuck, Shinnecock (not classified). 

1 377 

1 239 


Oneida (Wisconsin.)". 


2 610 




Great Osage Little Osage 

2 jgg 

i rjno 


Otoe and Missouri 










Maricopa Papago Pima 

fi 2-W 

Pine Ridge 
Pipestone (Birch 

Northern Cheyenne, Bruie Sioux, Oglala Sioux. 
Mdewakanton and Wapaguita Sioux and Sisse- 
^ton, and Wahpeton. 
Kaw, Ponca Tonkawa 


1 060 




80 O 


Prairie Band of Potawatomi 


Pueblo Bonito 


2 724 


Pueblo Agency 

Pueblo, Navajo. 

8 896 

5 QQ 

Tied Cliff 



See Colorado River. 

* * clusive of 606 Stockbridge and Munsee citizen Indians who are nonusers. 

This report does not include the 6,417 scattered Indians in Michigan who also do not use pevote. 
4 Exclusive of 360 unattached Indians all nonusers. 

& In . a Popuktion of 8,896. only 33 individuals are affected bv pevote, all residing in Taos, one of the more 
remote of the 19 pueblos within the j urisdiction of the agency. 


TABLE 1. Showing the number of Indians affected by peyote, etc. Continued. 


i Total 
Indian tribe?. popula 


Per cent 

Red Lake 

Pembina and Red Lake Chippewa ... 14% 



Rocky Bov 

Scattered Indians of California and Nevada 8, 000 
Rocky Boy s Band (Cree) 4 60 

Round Valley.. 
Sac and Fox (Iowa) 

Clear Lake, Concow. Littie Lake, Nomelaki, Pit l 518 
River, Potter Valley. Redwood Wailaki Ukie 
or Yuki. 
Sac and Fox (Mesquakie) 3.% 





Sac and Fox (Okla 

Iowa, Sac and Fox 683 



Salt River 

Maricopa, Mojave-Apache Pima i 277 

San Carlos 

Mojave-Apache. San Carlos 2 623 



San Juan 

Navajo 65000 


??P ag -nV s 237 



Ajrapano, Cheyenne 747 





Absentee Shawnec. Mexican Kickapoo -750 
Paiute 119 




Shoshone. . . 

North \rapaho Eastern Band (if ^hoshoni 1 696 


Confederated Siletz 446 




Sisseton and Wahpeton Sioux 2 280 




Mission 926 



Southern I te 

Capote and Moachc Ute 369 




Spokane 604 



Standing Rock. 

Sioux 3 455 




Queets River. Quileute. Quinaielt 734 



Tongue River 

Northern Cheyenne ] 470 



Truxton Canon . . 

Walapai 450 




Lummi Port Madison S u^quarnish Swinomi^h 1 353 



Tule River. 

Mission 443 



Turtle M ountain 

Turtle Mountain Chippewa 3 298 



Uintah and Ouray 
U mat ilia. 

Uinta. Uncompahgre. and White River Utes. . . 1, 162 
Cayus e, Umatilla, Wallawalla , 1 229 





Ute Mountain 

Capote and M cache Ute 508 


Walker River 

Paiute 1 804 


Warm Springs. . . 

Wasco. Tenino, Paiufe 822 



Western Navajo 

Hopi, Navajo, Paiute 6 565 



Western Shoshone 

Hopi, Paiute. Shoshoni 607 


Chippewa. 6,555 



Winnebago 1.086 




Confederated Yakima 3. 000 


Ponca Santee Sioux Yankton Sioux 3 117 




Pueblo. . i 1.815 

6 Does not include 393 Peoria-Miami citizen Indians who are nonusers. Used only in the Quapaw tribe, 
which numbers 337. 

7 Does not include 2,288 citizen Potawatomies. 

TABLE 2. Showing the number of Indians affected by peyote in, each State in 
which there is one or more Indian agencies and, the relation of such numbers, 
expressed in terms of percentage, to the total Indian population of the State 

[See note under Table 1 .] 




bv pe 

by pe 

age of 
users to 



























. 7 

Mississippi ... 




TABLE 2. Showing the number of Indians affected by peyote, etc. Continued. 



by pe 

by pe 

age of 
users to 


12 079 

11 530 









10 854 

10 854 


New Mexico 8 . .. 





New York 



North Carolina 

2 343 

2 343 


North Dakota 

8 940 

8 930 




116 494 

108, 239 

S 255 



11 657 

11 657 



South Dakota 4 

22 S79 

21 849 

1 030 

4 5 


1 704 

1 123 




11 082 

11 082 



Wisconsin * 

o 69(5 

9 163 





l o69 




316 008 

30 663 

13 345 


1 Does not include 1,193 Santee Sioux living in Nebraska but enumerated under the Yanlcton Agency 

1 Includes 5,000 (estimated) nonenrolled California Indians under the Reno Agency. Nev. 
1 Used only in the pueblo of Taos; estimated population. 550 ^census population 1910, 521); percentage of 
users, 6.0. 

4 Includes 1,193 Indians living on the Santee Reservation, Nebr., attached to the Yankton Agency. 
* Does not include the Stockbridge and Munsee citizen Indians.